With over 40 million copies sold and numerous Game of the Year awards, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that The Elder Scrolls is one of the most popular and revered franchises in the video game industry.
It's gone from niche RPGs more akin to Dungeons & Dragons to ambitious, sprawling open worlds that few games can compete with. For many of us, nothing comes close to capturing the feeling of playing an Elder Scrolls title for the first time, and with each subsequent release, the hype builds - but it's justified. Every single time.
These games are great, and though they're not objectively perfect, they keep fans coming back for more.
Though open-world games are far from uncommon, few really capture the depth and scale of Bethesda's worlds. But it isn't just the sheer size of them or even how much there is to do, it's the way everything comes together to really let you live another life in another world.
The Elder Scrolls games aren't without fault, but I'm not going to be talking about that here. Instead, let's dive into just why Bethesda's creations are truly beloved.
6. Players Have The Freedom To Do Anything
How you play, what you do, where you go... it doesn't matter.
The Elder Scrolls is all about player freedom. From the moment you escape the Imperial Prison, Privateer's Hold, or just that crummy boat in Seyda Neen, you're completely free to go off in any direction you choose: the critical story path, other quests, your own custom path or all sorts of nooks and crannies - it truly is up to you.
The Elder Scrolls games always start you as a prisoner, too, so that by the end of the tutorial, both you the player and your character get to know real freedom. There's no need to unlock portions of the map or earn certain features by playing the main quest; you can completely ignore the main plot if you choose.
Whilst many games have an open world structure, The Elder Scrolls give players a better sense of freedom than most by simply plopping them in the middle of map and saying "have at it".
The scenery in this series isn't just backdrop, either, it's an invitation to adventure. Giving players the feeling that they're going on a grand adventure or embarking on an epic quest is something video games have done since the beginning, but The Elder Scrolls takes off the rails and lets players make their own way through some humungous sandboxes.